Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Trip Upriver

Tuesday was a day I've looked forward to for a while. I was going to Wheeling, West Virginia to spend the day with my son's former girlfriend.

That might sound odd, but the fact is that even though they no longer date, they are still friends. And I have found a daughter--she's as much like a daughter I might have had as I can possibly imagine. Wheeling is 120 miles away so getting together is not so easy but I got it on my schedule, and I was going.

We.Had.A.Blast. Anastasia is a recent college grad and working for a while before returning to college for her Master's degree. I met her at her apartment in one of the older, working-class neighborhoods in Wheeling. I was fascinated by two things: the architecture and the multicultural population (The Croatian Brotherhood Society?). I love old buildings, and in this neighborhood there were so many examples of late 1800's-early 1900's styles. Wheeling was in its heyday then, with steel, glass, coal and steamboats bringing money, people and commerce to the city. I gawked. Stained glass windows, interesting brick, narrow alleys...all a long way from my ridge and endlessly fascinating to me.

Jebbia's Market was an oasis! We stopped there first, and I was astounded by the array of vegetables and fruits available at reasonable prices. Honestly, I wish I could shop here every week! I brought home a load of veggies and fruits. I mean, cauliflower for $1.00?! And mushrooms?! And boxes of cucumbers?! Anastasia lusted after the Greek olives so of course we bought those too. What a place. I almost think it would be worth the 3-hour trip once a month to stock up! (Yes, 3 hours, even though it's 120 miles--that's the mountains for you.)

We explored downtown: the Wheeling Coffee and Spice Company had awesome coffee and a great atmosphere to relax. And do you know, she loves junking as much as I do! She knew the best places and we had so much fun digging around for bargains.

I took the river road home, as I always do. I know that the interstate, or even the four-lane on the Ohio side of the Ohio River are probably faster, but I am in love with the West Virginia side of the river with its small riverside communities and history.

I stopped in Sistersville at the Wells Inn to visit with innkeeper Charles Winslow, and left with a cup of great coffee and the most amazing cookies. The Inn is still in renovation but is open for reservations and I highly recommend it for its great food, comfortable rooms and sense of history...oh, and it's haunted too.

The little town of Friendly had its lights on for the holidays; this barn made me turn around and go back for a photo. (I just learned that there is a Friendly Cemetery too--now there's a comforting thought. I'll have to visit it one day.)

The river had been busy all day; I saw so many barges going up and down the river which was really at a pretty high stage, with all the recent rains. Barge traffic means that the economy is in good shape along the river, so that's a good sign. As I drove into the night on my way home, I could not resist trying to photograph a barge at night.

In St. Mary's, the lights were on too:

One needs to pay attention to this sign, because the train comes right down the middle of the street!

Fueled by the cookies and coffee from the Wells Inn (you really must try their cookies-- to die for), I finally arrived home around 9:30pm after a long and interesting day.

I hope to get back to Wheeling soon. I miss Anastasia, and there is so much more to see in this old city that once was the home of the Wheeling Marsh Stogies cigars and the place where every cut nail in the USA was once made. Cabela's is the new economic engine for the area, but it is the old town and its history that attracts me.

As for all those vegetables I bought? In the freezer!


A Vintage Green said...

You are always planning ahead. It works too. What a wonderful day out you had. Thanks for sharing.

Angel said...

I've enjoyed Wheeling while I was going to Bethany.

My Grandpa, who grew up in the Parkersburg area, smokes cigars and has always called them stogies. And my grandma, if I'm remembering correctly, was born and lived for a time in Friendly.

Granny Sue said...

I was thinking about that, Joy--I like to stock up and stay that way; guess it harks back to my childhood and that full pantry Mom maintained.

Granny Sue said...

You have a lot of connection to the area, Angel. Anastasia attended Bethany too, and loved it. I would like to know more about Friendly, especially some of the old buildings that are now falling down.

Jenny said...

I'm fascinated by the tracks down the middle of the street - is it a regular freight train that runs down the street? I guess with the mountains you have to build wherever you can.

The lights are beautiful.

Granny Kate said...

Mark loves the architecture in Wheeling. It's a shame they are letting so many fall down because of the city's weird laws -- they come down very hard on out of town owners and they charge so many fees to renters, people are running shy of the place. We have a good friend there we sometimes visit. He lives on the island. I'll have to visit that market next time we're there.

Granny Sue said...

Jenny, regular trains do run right through the town! It's amazing to see, although those who live there just take it for granted. The town is right on the river, and the railroad follows the river. In past days the trains were the major transporters of people as well as goods for the river communities, so I suppose no one thought the tracks right in town were an issue. But as the automobile became our preferred transport, I suppose there wasn't enough room for tracks and road, and the buildings were already established so they just ran road and track together.

Granny Sue said...

I had not heard that about Wheeling, Kate. There are certainly some marvelous old buildings there. There is a church for sale that has some gorgeous stained glass windows that would probably be worth the asking price for the church! I hate to see the old buildings be so neglected. Can you just imagine the place in its heyday?

Ronda said...

That sounds wonderful! I'm about the same distance southwest of Wheeling. Long drive but worth it! And I can only try to imagine the hustle and bustle of that city 100 years ago.

Granny Sue said...

Ronda, you're not so far from where I live. I've told stories several times there, most recently at the theatre in September--ghost stories :) You have a lovely town.

Ronda said...

I thought you were there. I missed it this year. Sometime, you've got to take the ghost tour of Chillicothe. My sister-in-law does the best I've seen. She makes me feel like spirits are following me home. Let's meet sometime. I'm a recently retired teacher.

Granny Sue said...

We definitely will have to meet up. I'm also recently retired :) I want to go on that ghost tour too; the town seems perfect for it.

Country Whispers said...

Wheeling definitely has a history and it's sad to see so many of the old buildings just going to waste. I love riding bikes on the bike trail and through Wheeling on a quiet Sunday morning. There are so many interesting building details that you miss when riding in a car.
Oh, and Jebbias is great!

Granny Sue said...

Jessica, I thought of you as I passed through your town. Next time I'll plan ahead better and maybe we can get together.

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